He’s the superstar of film and screen and they’re his legion of loyal fans.
Whether they call themselves Cumberb****es, Cumberpeople or the CumberCollective, one thing is certain – Benedict Cumberbatch is the only man on their minds.
Meet the Sherlock star’s army of fans, who descended on Cardiff this week as filming for the BAFTA-nominated show’s third series got under way.
Film crews set up camp around Cardiff today as filming took place at Cardiff’s Royal Infirmary and on Wordsworth Avenue outside Newport Road, bringing with them loyal fans keen to get a glimpse of the action. Earlier in the week, Cumberbatch drew a crowd of snap-happy fans outside Giovannis restaurant on the Hayes in Cardiff city centre.
Huddled with their smartphones, they audibly gasped at the sight of their hero and rushed to snap his picture and tweet it using the hashtag #setlock. All manner of social media platforms, from Tumblr to Facebook, were filled with breathless commentary on costumes, sightings and speculation.
And often, the fans travel from far and wide to see filming in action. Yvonne Simeonidis from Viersen near Dusseldorf, Germany, planned a trip to Cardiff to visit locations from her favourite shows, including Doctor Who, Torchwood and Merlin and was over the moon to discover it would coincide with the filming of Sherlock.
She said: “When the trip drew closer I heard that Sherlock might be filming the third episode of the upcoming season during my stay and when it was confirmed they would be filming during my stay in Wales and in Cardiff rather than London, it was basically the sweetest cherry on top of a great trip.
“The prospect of seeing Benedict in person for the first time ever, and probably the only time ever, made it even more exciting.”
She eventually caught a glimpse of her hero outside the National Museum in Cardiff on Wednesday.
“The few short seconds I saw him I was literally shaking, I think – very mature for a 33-year-old woman, I know! But I couldn’t help myself.
“It felt sort of unreal to be honest. After being a fan for quite some time to see the man in the flesh was pretty special to say the least.”
Cumberbatch’s fans are as renowned as the Beliebers and Directioners – Justin Bieber and boyband One Direction fans respectively. Some call themselves Cumberb****es – but it’s not a term the man himself is fond of.
When asked about it in an interview in May, he said: “I won’t allow you to be my bitches. I think it sets feminism back so many notches. You are… Cumberpeople.”
Yvonne said: “Most of Benedict’s fans distanced themselves from the term Cumberb****es – including me. Especially since it makes Benedict so uncomfortable.
“I cringe every time an interviewer mentions the Cumberb****es because as fun as it was the first time it got old pretty quickly and as I said, it makes him so uncomfortable.”
What is it about Cumberbatch which inspires such levels of devotion? Before Sherlock, the 37-year-old London-born actor was little-known compared to the fame he enjoys now, save for a number of critically-acclaimed roles.
His fame exploded almost instantly after the first episode of Sherlock premiered in 2010. Since then, he’s lent his voice to Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit and won worldwide acclaim for his turn as the big baddie in J.J Abrams-directed Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Yvonne says his fanbase remains fiercely loyal as Cumberbatch’s success grows because, while he is now a worldwide star, they see him as very down to earth.
“I think what makes his fans so loyal is that, on the one hand, he’s deservedly become this huge name in the industry but at the same time he’s incredibly kind and humble,” she said.
“He’s constantly excusing himself for his upper class upbringing because people like to think of him as some posh privileged guy who got everything handed to him on a silver plate but he works so incredibly hard for every role he takes.
“He has his feet firmly on the floor, he’s very private and sort of shy.
“Plus his good looks don’t hurt either in the devotion of the fans!”
The date Sherlock’s third series will start has yet to be announced, but it is thought to be late 2013, early 2014.